The likable and fun-to-drive MINI Cooper convertible has been redesigned for 2009, making it even more desirable and entertaining to drive.
The MINI Cooper looks like nothing else on the road and pleasantly makes its presence known to everyone around it.
You can't help but like what you see when you feast your eyes on this niche car.
I like the MINI Cooper's nice blend of retro and modern design characteristics. For 2009, the MINI Cooper Convertible now shares the same platform as its Coupe and Clubman counterparts.
That equates to a more rigid structure and better handling.
The 2009 MINI Cooper Convertible is available in three trim levels: base ($23,900), S ($26,800) and John Cooper Works ($34,300).
The base trim level is powered by a naturally-aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that only makes 118 horsepower.
Stepping up to the S trim provides you with a turbocharged 1.6-liter that belts out 172 horsepower. Performance enthusiasts will enjoy the John Cooper Works edition - it features a 208-horsepower turbo 1.6-liter engine and many more upgrades. All three trim levels come standard with a six-speed manual gearbox and a welcome hill-start assist clutch. A six-speed automatic with manual shift paddles is optional in base and S trims.
I was glad to note that the new MINI Cooper Convertible no longer has those fixed rollover bars that greatly obstructed rear visibility. Instead, for 2009, MINI has fitted the convertible with rollover bars that automatically pop out from behind the rear seat in the event of a rollover.
Still, the 2009 MINI Cooper Convertible's top (top up) hinders rear visibility to the point that I felt like I was in a cave, albeit a nice and comfortable cave.
Convertibles like the 2009 MINI Cooper Convertible are obviously much more fun to drive top down and MINI now lets you keep track of the time you drive top down thanks to the new "openometer." It's not a meter you really need, but it tells you a lot about the company and its emphasis on having fun.
Top-down, the 2009 MINI Cooper Convertible has better visibility than its predecessor. Plus, the convertible lets you slide the top back a bit to provide a "sun roof " mode.
For the full open-air effect, the MINI Cooper Convertible's roof goes from closed to open in short order and neatly tucks out of the way.
Inside, the 2009 MINI Cooper Convertible provides plenty of leg and headroom up front, even for tall folks. And there's a nice flexible storage system that makes the most of the small cargo area.